Glial fibrillary acidic protein is an intermediate filament protein that is specific for astrocytes in the central nervous system. The glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) was first described in 1971; it was discovered that it is a type III IF protein which maps, in humans, to 17q21. It is closely related to its non-epithelial family members, vimentin, desmin, and peripherin, which are all involved in the structure and function of the cell’s cytoskeleton. It is believed that GFAP helps maintain astrocyte mechanical strength, as well as the shape of cells but its exact function remains poorly understood, despite the number of studies using it as a cell marker.
Loss of glial fibrillary acidic protein impairs the schwann cells proliferation and delays nerve regeneration after damage. The GFAP is involved in many cellular functioning processes, such as cell structure and movement, cell communication, and the functioning of the blood brain barrier. It has also been found that GFAP plays a role in mitosis by adjusting the filament network present in the cell. During mitosis, there is an increase in the amount of phosphorylated GFAP, and a movement of this modified protein to the cleavage furrow.